Health reform opponents like Senator Richard Burr (R - NC) have repeatedly attacked the Affordable Care Act (ACA) over the past year by pointing to insurers that cancelled existing, non-ACA-compliant individual market health plans. Yet, a health plan that Senator Burr and fellow Senate Republicans Tom Coburn (OK) and Orrin Hatch (UT) outlined in January would disrupt existing coverage far more.
As we explain in a new paper, their plan would likely cause millions who now have coverage through Medicaid, the new insurance marketplaces, and their jobs to lose it, while blocking millions more who are expected to obtain health insurance under health reform from gaining it in the future.
The Burr-Coburn-Hatch plan would repeal all of health reform except for certain Medicare provisions. In its place, it would convert much of Medicaid into block grants and create a new tax credit for people to buy health insurance primarily in the individual market. The plan has large gaps and lacks many essential details but, based on the public information available, it likely would:
Add substantially to the ranks of the uninsured and the underinsured by causing millions of people to lose their existing coverage and by making (or leaving) coverage unaffordable for many people of limited means through changes that would cause their premiums, co-payments, and other out-of-pocket charges to climb significantly;
Lead to states facing large shortfalls in federal Medicaid funding that could cause many low-income beneficiaries to become uninsured and go without needed care; and
Eliminate or significantly weaken health reform’s consumer protections and market reforms, especially for people with pre-existing conditions.
The Burr-Coburn-Hatch plan claims to ensure affordable health care for patients as an alternative to, and replacement for, the ACA. In reality, it would make coverage less affordable, add substantially to the ranks of the uninsured, and move the United States backward, toward the poorly functioning individual market that existed before health reform.